3D Touch interaction was without a doubt the biggest innovation and upgrade last year’s iPhone 6s brought to the table, and it of course didn’t take long for every Android device manufacturer under the sun to reportedly begin work on similar technology.

Huawei even introduced a Force Touch-capable handheld around the same time the iPhone 6s debuted, but the Mate S went largely unnoticed in Western markets, while the Mate 8 bizarrely ditched the pressure-sensitive screen.

Contrary to certain expectations and rumors, the Galaxy S7 gave force-feeling functionality the cold shoulder as well, and Google’s announcement of Apple-mirroring capacities baked directly into Android N has been delayed indefinitely.

A small group of University of Michigan engineering researchers however pulled off what the search giant couldn’t, planning to demo something they call ForcePhone at MobiSys 2016 in Singapore between June 27 and 29.

This is an experimental piece of software that doesn’t need a “special screen or built-in sensors” to enable 3D Touch-like operation on virtually any smartphone in the world equipped with a microphone and speaker. Sooo, literally any smartphone in the world.

What ForcePhone does is set your speaker to emit a tone at a frequency higher than 17 kHz, which is imperceptible to the human ear, but not your handheld’s mic. This will still be able to recognize the vibration caused by the near-silent sound, and thus detect weaker and stronger presses on the screen, plus squeezing actions of the phone’s body.

A whole new world of user interaction could then open, allowing you to clutch your device in a specific pattern to dial 911, for instance, or push slightly harder than usual on the screen to activate options similar to a computer mouse right-click. Very cool, though it goes without saying ForcePhone is a long way from any sort of commercial rollout.

Source: Michigan News

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